A big week for Posy!

11/30/2012 at 9:17 pm | Posted in About town, Posy | 1 Comment

this sweet girl is one of a set of vintage Christmas ornaments on Posy

I am one proud big sister this week.

Laura was interviewed for our local CBS affiliate’s mom blog, Go Ask Mom, as one of the artisans featured in their “Made by Mom” holiday gift guide. She rocked it! Authentic and funny and so passionate about her work.

Posy will be at the ELF fair tomorrow in Carrboro. Come visit us if you’re in the area! It’s at the ArtsCenter from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. There will be all sorts of vendors selling beautiful handmade goods. And also? FOOD TRUCKS. Breakfast burrito, here I come.

And Kindred Boutique in downtown Raleigh is hosting a mini Rock & Shop Market tomorrow. We hate to miss it! But Laura’s display is loaded with lots of lovely hand-sewn goods including napkin sets, pillow covers and pennant banners. If you stop by, look for Posy’s little nook in the white shelves on the left. The market runs from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

I’m in awe of Laura, who has managed to create an incredible inventory for all this while in the trenches with a newborn baby. She seriously sews stockings and napkin sets in between nursing sessions. I can’t even imagine.

Can’t wait to see what’s next for Posy and my superhero sister.

Because it's never too late to support small businesses

11/24/2012 at 8:41 pm | Posted in About town, Posy | 2 Comments
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new at Posy! vintage mercury glass ornaments

I had grand ambitions of posting a shopping guide for Small Business Saturday this morning. That is, until I ended up dragging a sleeping Sophie out from under my bed in the middle of the night and lying beside her on the floor all night to keep my little sleep-scooting baby from rolling right out of the guest room at my mother-in-law’s house.

It was one of those nights that will be funny in about, oh, five or ten years. When I can hold it over her.

Even though I missed the boat on Small Business Saturday because of my sleep-deprived delirium, I figure hey, every day should be about shopping small businesses.

I’ve already finished most of our Christmas shopping, and while a chunk of our holiday dollars now belong to Amazon (because of the prices and the plastic princess and fairy inventory) most of my favorite gifts are coming from small shops.

Here are a few of my favorites. Better late than never, right?

Online:
Posy (yup, I’m pimpin’): beautiful and quirky vintage and handmade goods for your home
Hi, Small: super cute vintage clothes for the littles
The Wheatfield: lovely art prints
Pencil Shavings Studio: gorgeous iPhone cases and other geekery
Lou & Lee: the cutest baby hair accessories you ever did see
Michelle Smith Designs: beautiful tea towels, pillow covers and original fabrics

About town:
Kindred Boutique: awesomely diverse selection of handmade goods by local artisans
Epona & Oak: beautiful handmade goods by local designers, plus a wellness studio with everything from facials to yoga classes
Stitch: I love Holly Aiken bags. The end.
Cat Banjo: funky handmade jewelry and other accessories (even for your pets!)
Accipter: totally unique (and often hilarious) art, homegoods, jewelry and gifts (think fire-breathing wind-up nuns)
NoFo at the Pig: a renovated Piggly Wiggly with everything from homegoods to gourmet foods to the most adorable gifts for the littles

What are your favorite small shops? I’m always on the hunt for new places to stalk (either online or here in the Triangle). Share in the comments!

How to be Gluten-free in the Triangle without feeling like you're missing out on life

11/09/2012 at 3:27 pm | Posted in About town | 1 Comment
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I’ve been meaning to post this FOREVER. I won’t confess how long it’s been in my queue, except to say that I gathered this information for Auntie Julie’s visit over the summer. ::ahem::

My friend Beth, who has been gluten-free for years, is my guru on the topic. Once I learned from Julie that she had changed her diet, I immediately contacted Beth to find out where I could take Julie out to eat in town and what sorts of foods I should have handy at the house.

And the email Beth sent just about blew me away. It was a HUGE life-saver for Julie’s visit, and it’s just too valuable not to share here. Even if you don’t live in the Triangle (N.C.) area, Beth’s tips — and words of encouragement at the end of the post — are just plain awesome.

If you have anything to add, please share in the comments!

Let’s get this GF party started …

Restaurants:
Bella Monica has an awesome gluten-free menu, and they bring gluten-free breadsticks to the table.
Sitti notes on their menu gluten-free options.
Spize Cafe also has a pretty awesome gluten-free menu.
– Domino’s gluten-free pizza has been under fire about not being made in a dedicated kitchen. I’ve had it twice without issue, and I’m super-sensitive to gluten. Tests of different places showed that it had very few gluten parts per million.
Mellow Mushroom has a gluten free crust! And, it’s yummy!
– Chinese is tough, but PF Changs and Pei Wei have gluten-free menus.
– Indian food has lots of gluten-free options since wheat isn’t really grown there. Dosa and curries are my favorite.
– Thai is also good. The noodles are made with rice, and the spices are out of this world.
– Mexican is also awesome. Corn tacos, tortilla chips, enchiladas are all usually *safe.*
Irregardless has the BEST brunch. Out of this world good gluten-free pancakes!

Grocery Stores:
– Thank goodness, most fresh fruits and veggies are naturally gluten-free. So are meats that haven’t been marinated.
– Whole Foods: They have a dedicated gluten-free bakehouse and tons of special treats in the freezer section. But it’s pricey. I’ve learned to use certain gluten-free products as a treat and not as a staple to my diet (see also: gluten-free donuts, muffins, cupcakes, etc.). Whole Foods also does gluten-free store tours from time to time. Was a neat experience and we got gift cards at the end!
– Trader Joe’s: They do a great job of labeling gluten free products AND you can get a list of all their gluten-free products at the customer service counter.
– Harris Teeter, Food Lion and Kroger are growing their gluten-free product selection. Usually it’s grouped with the organic/healthy junk food stuff.
– Wal-Mart: This one really surprised me! But the Wal-Mart in Apex has a ton of gluten-free products at really good prices. That’s where I usually get our pasta.
– Fresh Market: HUGE dud (outside of their yummy things that are naturally gluten free).

Specific Products:
– Woodchuck Ciders are awesome!
– Woodbridge gluten-free beer is pretty good, but it’s on the expensive side.
– Udi’s entire product line of breads is good. But keep in the freezer or it’ll dry out fast.
– Glutino is another brand that everything I’ve had has been good.
– Chex honey and cinnamon are the BOMB.
– Cookies: Paula Deen has a recipe for a peanut butter cookie, and there is a flowerless chocolate chip cookie that’s really easy and good.
– Betty Crocker has cake mixes/brownie mixes that are good! Tend to be drier than regular versions, but still tasty.
– Gluten-free Bisquick: Expensive, but very versatile. Biscuits. Chicken dumplings. Use as breading.
– Plain corn meal: We use this to batter pork chops, fried squash, fried okra, mix a little water in and just fry some corn bread.

Being gluten-free isn’t that tough after you navigate and survive the first six months. Just about any craving you have has a gluten-free alternative. It’s expensive if you’re looking for a swap for everything, but I use it as treats and it’s not so bad on the food budget. Google is your best friend until you learn what to order. It’s so much easier to find gluten free products now than it was five years ago when I started having to be GF.

I’m so fortunate to have the most awesome friends. They’ve educated themselves about what I can/can’t have and always make sure there is something I can eat. And there is a gluten-free Raleigh Expo in August.

It really only sucks the first little bit, promise.

In love with Kindred

11/02/2012 at 2:57 pm | Posted in About town, Posy | 4 Comments

There are so many lovely little details inside Kindred, it’s impossible not to smile.

The concept behind Kindred is just as brilliant as the space: it’s an incubator for local artisans. Along with affordable retail space in an awesome location, Kindred also provides its artisans with real, live business mentors. It’s an amazing opportunity for people (like Laura) who might not otherwise have the resources to sell their handmade goods in a bricks-and-mortar shop and receive valuable guidance from an expert.

And with creative director (and force of nature) Michelle Smith at the helm, Kindred couldn’t be more beautiful. Just look:

Kindred is located at 131 S. Wilmington Street in downtown Raleigh, just a couple of doors down from Gravy and Sitti. Check it out on Facebook and Twitter. If you stop by, be sure to check out Posy’s little nook! You can also find Posy on Facebook and Twitter.

On this, the last day of the fair

10/21/2012 at 8:36 pm | Posted in About town, snap happy | 2 Comments
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Sophie’s hair smells of turkey leg smoke.

Lily hasn’t put down the stuffed fish she won.

And Marc and I are exhausted.

A fitting end to the State Fair, one of our favorite holidays of the year. Yes, a holiday. Because it’s just plain wonderful.

I went three times. Once for work (really). I sampled some of this year’s new deep-fried goods: cinnamon bun covered with glaze and bacon (good) and the deep-fried Girl Scout cookies (just okay). And my favorite meal remains a McBride’s corn dog with Al’s Fries of course. Although the “barbecue sundae” was tempting. I’ll leave that one to your imagination.

We visited the animals, danced to bluegrass music in Heritage Circle and met a walking tree, which was one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen.

Until next year, State Fair. We’ll miss you!

Psst … over here!

10/15/2012 at 2:49 pm | Posted in About town, videos | 8 Comments

You know how much I love the North Carolina State Fair.

Now you can see (and hear) it for yourself.

I love this video for two reasons:

1. I talk mostly about food.

2. I talk so much that I got edited. On a live video. Because I’m so freaking talky. Ask me a question and wheee there she goes …

If you’re local to the Triangle and haven’t yet discovered Go Ask Mom, you must check it out! This site is one of my go-to sources for kids’ events and activities, consignment sales, craft projects … and soon enough, summer camps. Sarah Hall, who runs the site, is just lovely. And she has two young children, so she knows her stuff (and thank goodness for us, she shares it all on Go Ask Mom).

So. My 15 minutes of fame. Deep-fried, of course.

Making you proud!

The giveaway of my dreams: NC State Fair prize pack

09/25/2012 at 10:18 am | Posted in About town, Bloggy | 55 Comments
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So it’s no secret around these parts that I’m cuckoo for the North Carolina State Fair. Nothing will ever beat serving as the fair’s first Deep-Fried Ambassador.

Well, except for motherhood. Maybe.

KIDDING.

But really. I love me some State Fair. Especially when it’s dipped in batter, deep fried and served on a stick.

Seeing the fair through Lily’s eyes over the last few years has made it even more magical. And this year Sophie will get to tear it up. (Consider yourselves warned, farm animals.)

I love it all. Food, animals, rides, games, history, crafts, competitions, concerts, agriculture, culture period. I’ll never forget my corn dog epiphany. Or that one time I shot a rifle.

The Deputy and I are gearing up for our annual visit, this year with two little ones in tow. Should be quite the scene. I’ll also probably go back five or six or twenty more times that week. Because I can never get enough.

So you can imagine how stoked I am that the State Fair wants to share the love WITH YOU through the best giveaway in the history of internet giveaways ever.

Check out what’s up for grabs:

>> 4 admission tickets to the North Carolina State Fair
>> 4 ride books (with a coupon for 2 rides in each book)
>> 4 t-shirts (S, M, L, XL)
>> 4 stickers

!!!!!!

To enter the giveaway, just leave a comment below telling us your all-time favorite thing to do (or eat) at the State Fair.

And for an extra chance to win, you can tweet about this giveaway:

Bring on the fry oil … @pretty_swell wants to send you to the @NCStateFair! Enter to win a deep-fried prize pack: http://bit.ly/OS5x9n

If you choose to tweet, please leave a separate comment below so it counts as an extra entry. This giveaway ends at noon on Monday, Oct. 1. And be sure to stay tuned to NC State Fair happenings through their Deep-Fried blog, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Hope to see you there!!

(I’ll be the one wrestling my kid for the last bite of deep-fried Snickers bar.)

**Congratulations to our winner, Julie L!! Enjoy the fair!**

Happiness is: "bananas in pajamas" pie

02/01/2012 at 8:07 pm | Posted in About town, Happiness is | 5 Comments

Local friends, if you have not yet been to PieBird, GO NOW. Like, drop what you’re doing and get thee to downtown Raleigh. The baby or the dishes or the DVR can wait.

This place is the deal.

Pictured above was my dessert at a lovely little lunch with Laura. My main course was a black bean and chile hand pie and a green salad with mandarin oranges and bleu cheese crumbles. Ah-mazing. And totally worth every single last calorie.

Next time? I’m all over the pie cracklins. And pimento cheese empanadas.

Stuffing pie into my pie-hole. Poetic.

(I had the pleasure of interviewing Sheilagh, PieBird owner and baker extraordinaire, before her restaurant became a reality. Read it here if you like.)

In love with Epona & Oak

11/16/2011 at 2:59 pm | Posted in About town | 1 Comment
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Leeann (left) and Cheryl Hynes inside Epona & Oak.

Leeann (left) and Cheryl Hynes inside Epona & Oak.

The Hynes sisters kick butt.

Cheryl, Leeann and Katie run Epona & Oak, my new favorite shop in Raleigh. Every single thing for sale is handmade, and the majority of the designers are local.

I stopped by Epona & Oak recently to chat with Leeann and Cheryl about what it’s like to go into business with family and why handmade rocks …

Suzanne: So, how did Epona & Oak come to be?

Leeann: Our little sister, Katie, is the planner of the family. She always wanted to do a family business. It was 2007. I had my own business making jewelry, Cheryl was working as a massage therapist, and we all realized we’re doing what we love. This is it. So Katie thought it would be good if we put it all together and have one business. I think I spent seven months working on the business plan. We really went over it. And when we decided to do this, nothing like it really existed here.

S: You guys are unique in Raleigh, if not the whole Triangle, right?

Cheryl: I think so. More shops like this are starting to pop up, but not with the wellness side.

S: What’s it like working with your sisters?

L: We love working together! We have fun.

C: But everyone kept warning us not to go into business with family.

L: We hired a lawyer, an accountant … everybody warned us it would end in tragedy (laughs). So we went to family therapy. It was really good.

C: We learned how not to push each other’s buttons and to take responsibility for ourselves.

L: To be respectful.

S: So, who does what?

L: I run the storefront and manage the artists, and Cheryl runs the wellness studio.

C: I book Reiki, facial and massage therapy appointments, and I help run the store when I’m not in session.

L: Katie teaches Reiki and yoga classes on the weekends. And we also have an esthetician on staff, Monica Shelton, who makes the Ablutions [bath and body] products.

Epona & Oak

S: Why did you choose City Market?

L: We really wanted to be downtown. We liked City Market, the history here. This was one of the first places I ever went when I came to Raleigh.

S: So, how many designers do you have here?

L: Over 60 now, and it’s still growing. I help put on the Handmade Market each year, and that’s where I would meet the artists. We also pick up at least one new artist with each new market … and I find artists at other craft fairs. When the shop opened, there were only four consigners and everybody else was wholesale. Now, it’s mostly consignment.

S: How does that work?

L: With consignment, they really can make and sell whatever they want. So we don’t own it; we get a percentage of it. I do monthly reports so they can see what and how much they’ve sold.

C: They’ll usually restock once a month. That’s another nice thing about being local … they can bring stuff to us if it runs out.

Epona & OakS: How do you keep everything straight?

L: I’m crazy for spreadsheets. I keep track of everything that everyone brings in with Excel. And with this fancy book (holds up a black composition book, laughing) … this tells me when it’s sold and certain highlights mean certain things. One of our friends once offered to put everything on the computer for us, but this is actually faster and just as easy.

S: Let’s talk about the Handmade Market. Leeann is one of the founders, right?

L: Yes, some friends and I used to work at Ornamentea. I used to be a buyer for them. We did the Boylan Artwalk and made a killing … we were all in shock. So we decided maybe we should put on a local market of our own.

S: How long has the Handmade Market been going on?

L: Since 2004. We do two shows a year, fall and spring. And we always support a charity … this year it’s Interfaith Food Shuttle. The artists donate items for gift baskets to raffle.

S: So, do you guys hang out outside of work? What’s it like?

L: Easter and Thanksgiving … (laughs).

C: We’ve actually been through a lot together. Our mom was very sick with cancer, and we brought her from Florida last September, and we were all caregivers. We lost her in March. But we spent a lot of time together … working together and seeing each other outside work every day. I think after that, we needed a little break. But we still see each other every day.

S: What’s your favorite part of all this?

L: I love our customers. They’re like an extension of our family.

C: I agree. We’ve met so many awesome people from having had this business that we’d never otherwise have met.

Epona & Oak

S: What are your dreams for this place?

Both, in unison: Employees!

L: I would like to offer more classes. They’re fun. And I’d love to add more artists.

C: And I always envisioned a whole wellness studio with different practitioners you can draw upon.

S: Why is the handmade movement so important to you?

L: We love supporting the community, our neighbors. These products aren’t mass produced; no one’s getting hurt in the production of these things. Our artists love what they make.

C: And I honestly think you can feel that when you walk in the door.

Epona & Oak is located in downtown Raleigh’s City Market. The shop is open Monday – Friday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Go check it out. You’ll be happy you did.

The Handmade Market is this weekend!

11/10/2011 at 10:09 pm | Posted in About town | 1 Comment
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Handmade MarketHandmade MarketThis is just a small sample of the artists who will be selling at the Handmade Market this Saturday in Raleigh.

Are you drooling? I am.

The market runs from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Cobblestone Hall (the old Greenshield’s) in downtown City Market. The first 500 people through the door will receive a goody bag.

I’ll be there bright and early with my Christmas-shopping game face on. Hope to see you there!

Handmade Market

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